Is it better to run 3 ten mile runs with food breaks or one 24-26 mile run when training for a marathon?

How would this translate to a race time?

2 Answers 2


In my opinion the furthest I would go in training pre marathon is about 22 miles. And I would only do 1 of these. The rest of the long runs I would suggest should be between 18-20 miles.

The reason I say this, is that running the full 26 miles takes a lot out of you, and I think would have a negative affect on the actual marathon rather than a positive.

I think a 22 is okay, as it's in the last few miles that you would hit the wall(if you were going to). You definitely don't want this to happen in training. Doing a 22 will give you the confidence that you can do the distance, which is why I would suggest you do one.

I can't see any reason for doing 3 x's 10 miles. Do you really have the time to do that in one day?

Also, a reason for not doing 3 x 10 is that when you do the very long runs your body has to learn to use fat as fuel. If you do 3 x's 10 you wouldn't get this benefit.

I hope that helps.

Btw I don't understand the last bit of your question - how does this translate to race time?

  • My pace is dropping significantly over a marathon. After finishing a marathon in 4:32 about two weeks later I finished a half in 1:43. I'm really interested in whether or not a long run can be broken up into short sprints with food/carb breaks inbetween in order to improve speed over long distance. The part of translating to race time would be how not fueling up in the middle of running may reduce my pace in a race. I dont have time to do 3x 10 miles really, so I do think I'm getting alittle run crazy :)
    – Jason
    May 13, 2014 at 23:51
  • There are 2 reasons your pace would be dropping. Either you haven't done enough long runs in training or you have started too fast. You need to start the marathon at a pace you can maintain. It will seem to slow, but you can always pick it up later May 14, 2014 at 14:46
  • Well I've been training longer distance but haven't gotten the same response as I have from running 16-18 miles, and running 23 miles does feel pretty close to a marathon. Even doing 23 miles too often has slowed my growth. Your right about hitting the wall after 23 miles is not too bad since it would be so close to the finish. Thanks
    – Jason
    May 25, 2014 at 14:30

Each one would have a different effect on fitness, but in theory both would be good options.

One long 24-26 mile run would help ensure you go the distance on race day. Three ten mile runs with breaks would allow you to run at a slightly faster training pace for the overall mileage.

It really depends on what your marathon goals are (i.e. crossing the finish line, setting a PR, etc.)

If you want to drop your time, the main thing is to spend time at marathon pace. One of the best marathon training runs I know of is a 20+ mile run with the first half easy and the second half at marathon goal pace.

  • 1
    I guess this is just my opinion(but I do have many years of experience) and have run 13 marathons in respectable times), but I would not recommend running 24-26 miles in training. See my reason in my answer below May 13, 2014 at 12:50
  • @Tracyat2bactive, your marathon experience is much more than mine. I do agree that more often than not, except for elites that run 100+ miles a week, a 26 mile training run is a little overkill for a marathon. I just answered the question the question with my opinion based on the limited background and goal information provided. :)
    – KC-Flip
    May 15, 2014 at 1:04
  • 1
    - no worries, we are all here to learn, that's why I made the comment. May 15, 2014 at 6:15

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